Honourable and personal residential letting experts

It is clear the COVID epidemic has had a wide impact across the whole economy, with all businesses and individuals experiencing some loss, cost or inconvenience. We have continued to do what we can to help you minimise any adverse impact on you and your home.

We have had conversations with many tenants and landlords understandably expressing concern about how tenancies may be affected. Positively everyone seemed to have pulled together, recognising this is an extraordinary situation.

We thought it may be helpful to update you to address some key questions you may have.

What if I can't pay my rent?

This is the obvious big question, as a wide range of businesses have been affected, which may mean your earnings could be affected. We hope that does not happen to you, but if it does it is important to let us know as soon as possible.

You will obviously need to explore the various government support schemes (see “What help is available?” below) and show you have done that, so we can explain to your landlord what steps you are taking to meet your obligations. If you can’t pay your whole rent, we will ask what you can pay.

Please remember that if there is more than one of you on the tenancy, then all named people are legally liable for the tenancy, so you need to work together to pay the rent where you can. The key is getting in touch as soon as possible, so everyone is aware early.

What help is available?

This is an extraordinary situation. However the Government created a number of schemes to help protect people’s jobs and income.

If you are employed the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme “furlough” scheme means your employer can get a proportion of your wages until October 2020 rather than you lose your job.

If you are self employed the Self-employment Income Support Scheme, has been helpful.

These schemes covered most people, but there were still some who were not covered, so the Government increased benefit levels to cover those people. They have also made it clear the benefits office can give emergency payments/loans where needed.

If your income is reduced because of this crisis you need to ensure you get any support available through these schemes, or ensure your employer does, before you assume the landlord will be able to reduce the rent.

Can I get a rent reduction or rent payment holiday?

Maybe!

For you to have a rent reduction or rent payment holiday your landlord needs to agree to receive less rent from you. Whilst some landlords may be able to afford this, most landlords rely upon rent as a major source of their income. In other words, they maybe as dependent on the rent as you are on your income, which is why it is important to have explored all other means of paying your rent, including support from the Government first.

That said many landlords have been receptive to applications for some form of rent reduction, or rent payment delay, for a short period. Understandably they would want to know as much as possible about the changes to your circumstances, along with any documentation or calculations you have. This will help them understand your situation and assess how they can help. Where such arrangements have been agreed the tenants normally repay any unpaid rent over time. If your landlord has any rent protection insurance or the chance of a mortgage payment holiday, this information may help them cover any reduction in rent.

Please be aware any rent protection insurance is usually conditional upon the insurer evicting any tenant, which may not be in your best interests.

 

Will my landlord evict me if I can’t pay rent?

Under normal circumstances, that may happen. However many landlords we have spoken to understand this is an extraordinary situation and want to work to help everyone through this, so things can get back to normal as soon as possible.

Apart from that the Government has said it will stop any new court eviction proceedings, currently until 20 September 2020.

For clarity the formal position is the rent will still be due. However we know exceptional arrangements may be needed during these exceptional times as everyone is going to experience some difficulty, so the key will be working with your landlord to bridge the gap till things get back to normal.

Will I be charged fees if I can’t pay my rent?

No! The law prevents any fees. In theory you can be charged interest on any debt at 3% above Bank of England base rate a year. On £1,000 rent that would be less than £1 a week – obviously not significant!

During this our focus is going to be helping people get back to their normal payment patterns as soon as possible, not on making charges.

If I can’t pay rent will this affect any future reference for me?

If you previously had a good payment record and you have only had a difficulty during this crisis, plus you have keep us fully up to date with any issues, we do not believe there is any reason to give a poor reference regarding your payment history. This is an exceptional situation and we are treating it as such.

As my landlord can get a mortgage holiday, does that mean I do not have to pay rent?

Sadly no!

The Government extended ‘mortgage holidays’ to buy to let mortgages as a precaution in case tenants lose their income and can’t pay their rent. The legal obligation to pay your rent remains, as does the landlords’ obligation to meet any mortgage payments. The ‘holiday’ effectively just delays the mortgage payment. It also affects landlords credit score, so is not something they are keen to do.

What if I need repairs at my home?

These will be completed as normal subject to you and our contractors agreeing COVID safe access arrangements, and confirming you are not in isolation, infected or showing symptoms.

If you need some help please visit our repairs self help pages – you may find you can fix things yourself. If not, give us a call, we may be able to get someone to help you remotely.

In August we re-started routine property visits, again by agreement to ensure you are content for our staff to come into your home.

What if I want to end my tenancy?

Your legal right to serve notice to end your tenancy should not be affected.

If you want to discuss ending your tenancy, or withdrawing your notice to leave, then please contact [email protected]

If you have any thoughts or concerns about the items on this page or other questions we have not covered, then please get in touch on [email protected]

or call us on

01480 494939